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RFID News Roundup

DHS testing tags for US-VISIT; PEAK releases device manager for SAP; Ofcom proposes RFID spectrum allocation; TI supplying Gen 2 inlays for Lowry Smart Trac; Infineon sells software business; new Xterprise headquarters includes solution center; WhereNet forms internal security group.
By Ari Juels
Aug 12, 2005The following are news announcements made during the week of Aug. 8.

DHS Testing Tags for US-VISIT Program
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun testing RFID tags embedded in I-94A forms, which the department issues to visitors who have nonimmigrant visas, are under the Visa Waiver Program or are Mexican Border Crossing Card holders planning stays longer than 30 days and/or traveling outside the border area. The RFID tags will be used as a means of automatically recording border entries and exits. To test the technology, a total of five U.S. border ports in Arizona, New York and Washington are issuing I-94A forms containing tags. The tests will continue through early summer of 2006. DHS announced its plans for these tests in January (see Homeland Security to Test RFID). The RFID test is part of the US-VISIT Program, which is deploying a number of measures to increase U.S. border security. The RFID tag transmits only a unique serial number, which U.S. government officials link to the visitor's biographic and biometric record through a secure database.

PEAK Releases Device Manager for SAP
PEAK Technologies has announced the launch of the PEAK Automation Controller software for users of SAP enterprise platforms. The controller resides on SAP's Web Application Server and serves as a gateway between RFID reader devices (such as RFID interrogators, smart label printer-encoders and handheld interrogators) and SAP's Auto ID Infrastructure. The PEAK Automation Controller software uses a configurable rules processor to filter the aggregate reads from the RFID reader network, then sends only the tag data that the users request. The PEAK software is written in SAP's software language, APAB, and therefore does not require any other middleware or custom software be deployed. The software is available now; pricing information has not been released. PEAK also announced that it has opened an RFID test and integration laboratory at its headquarters in Columbia, Md. The lab simulates a warehouse/distribution center for testing RFID technology and is designed to help customers develop an optimal RFID tagging system to suit their needs. Fixed and mobile interrogators from Symbol, LXE, PSC, Intermec and SAMSys are available for testing the readability of tagged products. The lab also includes smart label printer-encoders from Zebra and Printronix; automated applicators from CTM Integration; and Teklynx Codesoft and Seagull BarTender RFID label design software.

Ofcom Proposes RFID Spectrum Allocation
Ofcom, the government body responsible for overseeing civil use of the radio spectrum in the United Kingdom, has proposed that U.K. RFID users be allowed to utilize the 865-868 MHz spectrum without the need to license their deployments. According to a consultation document from the regulator published this week, Ofcom is setting aside the 865-868 MHz spectrum for RFID in line with the European Conference of Communications and Postal Administration's recommendations. Comments on the proposal must be made by Sept. 12, shortly after which Ofcom intends to make its final regulations. Although Ofcom says it is aware of questions raised concerning the impact of RFID on personal privacy, it notes that those concerns fall outside its statutory mandate.

TI Supplying Gen 2 Inlays for Lowry Smart Trac
Lowry Computer Products, a provider of wireless, RFID, bar code and data collection solutions, is integrating EPC Gen 2 tags manufactured by Texas Instruments (TI) into its Smart Trac RFID smart labels. Lowry plans to sell the labels to companies deploying EPC tagging systems for retail and Department of Defense (DOD) RFID supply chain applications. Samples of the smart labels are available now, and production quantities will be available by the end of the month, according to Lowry. The label converter says it expects to produce more than 100 million smart labels per year. TI is a primary but nonexclusive source of tags to Lowry, which has not announced the names of any other companies that will provide Gen 2 inlays. Mike Lowry, president and CEO of the Brighton, Mich.-based firm, says he expects the partnership with TI will allow his company to become a primary RFID label source to early adopters of Gen 2 tags. TI has begun ramping up production of its Gen 2 inlays and has also made a similar supplier agreement with label converter Moore Wallace (see Moore Wallace Announces Production Capacity for Millions of Gen 2 Smart Labels).

Infineon Sells Software Business
Infineon Technologies has sold its RFID software solutions—including patents, trademarks, licenses, development hardware and software, and current customer projects and RFID demonstration applications—to a new RFID software company, RF-iT Solutions. This startup is based in Graz, Austria. No financial information about the deal has been released. The newly formed company will have around 20 employees, while the 40 employees involved in RFID chip development at Infineon's development center will remain with that company. Infineon said in a statement that it will continue to produce memory, power, microcontrollers and communications devices for various applications, including RFID. RF-iT Solutions, meanwhile, will market You-R OPEN, a Infineon-developed middleware platform.

New Xterprise Headquarters Includes Solution Center
Systems integrator Xterprise has opened a new headquarters in Carrollton, Texas, that includes a 6,000-square-foot RFID Solution Center containing a simulated operational warehouse/manufacturing environment to showcase the RFID tagging and data integration solutions it has deployed for its customers. The center uses RFID hardware and software from Alien Technology, Zebra Technologies, Symbol Technologies, Apriso, Red Prairie and TrueDemand. The solutions displayed include the company's retail RFID solutions: XARM, which combines hardware and software products to help companies comply with retail and government mandates; and TraX, Xterprise's inventory visibility, cold chain and asset management solution. The solution center opened June 20, and Xterprise is holding an open house at the facility on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. The center is open to both potential and existing Xterprise customers at any time during business hours.

WhereNet Forms Internal Security Group
WhereNet, which sells real-time location systems using active RFID tags to track and manage enterprise assets, has formed the WhereNet Transportation Security Group within its transportation, distribution and logistics division. The firm created the division in order to support its customers' initiatives to increase cargo security in response to President Bush's Homeland Security Presidential Directive-13 of 2004. WhereNet says the security group will work with government officials, national security experts and strategic partners to develop solutions that address critical national needs but also ensure the continued free flow of trade and efficient port operations.
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